These last few weeks of (state) school are a killer – and it's only going to get worse before we all collapse in a heap in two weeks and spend the first couple of days of the long school summer holiday with me shouting at everyone. "No I'm not the housekeeper/breakfast was cleared up three hours ago – it is 1pm/if I've asked you once I've asked you a million times to bring down your dirty washing/no I am not able to drive you and six mates to Chessington World of Adventures with absolutely no notice."
And why is it that these last few weeks of the school term are absolutely full to bursting point with a terrifying amount of stuff on my "to do" list? It's a fair bet that in playgrounds up and down the land end-of-term rituals are being played out by frantic mothers and sometimes hysterical children.
"As David Cameron would say, we're all in this together," laughs a fellow mum in the playground, as I run in desperately searching for the class rep to throw her my fiver for the class teacher collection.
I growl something back, along the lines that I didn't see her helping at midnight last night when I was clearing up in the school grounds after a succession of tearful parents and frankly children-high-on-haribo celebrated the end of primary school at an extravaganza our school throws for the year six leavers.
In truth, I haven't got time to stop and remonstrate with her further, as I am too busy hunting down the lady in the playground who promised me she would have run up the head scarves for the brothers who are starring in the school production of "Joseph". It takes place in less than a week – there is no sign of this woman – and I have to get to work.
When my eldest son started school way back in 1999 – gulp – I had no idea how all-consuming of my time school would become. And the business of the end of the summer term is a perfect illustration of how we are all pulled from pillar to post. And back.
"Sports days, end-of-term awards ceremonies, special goodbye assemblies, presentations for teachers who are leaving at which my attendance is required, end-of-year production, class collections, thanksgiving for the school year church service, a present and card for the head, a leaving card to be made for the child my daughter has never played with and who is moving back to Brazil (but who we have been asked to make one for by the teacher) - don't get me started!" snaps my friend Jo. Ouch – that's some can of worms I'm opening.
Yet my sister, a head teacher who prefers to rename anonymous, reports from the other side that school staff find the whole end-of-the-school-year time equally stressy.
"I have 470 reports to read through and comment on at this time of year," she despairs, "and I try and write a comment which is pertinent to the child on each." Wow - ten out of ten to the head.
My sister – let's call her Sally – says the grand finale to the end of the school year is on the last day. "The long goodbye in the playground, which sees most of the year sixes running around sobbing and hugging their friends as if they will never, ever see them again, is as much a part of the school calendar as the nativity play or the Easter bonnet parade," she muses.
"No matter how hard we remind the children that most of them will be going off to secondary school together in just six weeks, they wail and cry as if it's the end of the world, not their primary school life."
There's just no way around it – next year I may take my children out of school a fortnight before the end of the summer term. I think I'd rather have them under my feet for two weeks longer than all being on the end of term runaway train.
What do you think?
Do you dread the end of term - the combination of endless calendar activity combined with the children doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in class for at least two weeks?
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